As a Giant fan, recent years have been quite unkind to me, and this year figures to be no different. In my sorrow, I forgot the glory of years past. Shame on me, not only have I been treated to TWO championship teams in my lifetime, both Super Bowl games have been some of the greatest the league has ever seen. Thinking on all the Super Bowls I’ve watched since the end of the 2005 season, the Giants appearances must rank near the top of a “Best Of” list, right? So I’ve decided to take a break from my usual doom and gloom analysis of the Giants to bring you my list for the 10 Best Super Bowls since 2005.
10. Super Bowl XLVIII: Denver Broncos vs Seattle Seahawks
This highly anticipated match-up saw the league’s best offense in history go against one of the best defense’s the league had ever seen. The league’s best scoring offense going against the league’s best scoring defense had not happened since 1990, thus excitement rose from the match-up.
Sadly, the game could not have been more lopsided. The Seattle defense swarmed Denver QB Peyton Manning early and often, shutting the MVP outing in the first half and eventually holding the league’s most prolific offense to 8 measly points. Seattle LB Malcolm Smith and eventual Super Bowl MVP ran an interception back for a touchdown, and Percy Harvin ran the second half kickoff back for a touchdown too. By that point, the game was far out of reach and Seattle eventually won 43-8.
9. Super Bowl XL: Seattle Seahawks vs Pittsburgh Steelers
Seattle again graces our list, only this time as the loser of another odd Super Bowl. Pittsburgh, led by second year QB Ben Roethlisberger, became the first Wild Card team to win a Super Bowl off the strength of an improbable playoff run. However, in the Super Bowl, Big Ben registered one of the worst performances by a quarterback in Super Bowl history. Offensive production came in the form of an Antwan Randle-El end-around, as well as a 75-yard Willie Parker touchdown run. In addition, Roethlisberger was apart of one of the strangest calls in NFL history. While stretching for the goal-line, Ben’s knee was clearly down, but the officials chose to award him a touchdown, even after instant replay review.
Seattle’s number one ranked offense was anemic, managing on 10 points in the 21-10 loss. League MVP Shaun Alexander, who scored a league record 28 touchdowns during the regular season, could not find the end zone in the contest, despite being the games leading rusher. Thankfully, Seattle made up for its offensive production in this contest by dropping 43 in its subsequent Super Bowl appearance.
8. Super Bowl XLI: Chicago Bears vs Indianapolis Colts
Peyton Manning’s first appearance and only victory in the Super Bowl took place during a Miami Monsoon. Against the 13-3 Bears, the league’s number one ranked defense, Manning posted decent numbers en route to a 28-17 victory. This game was noteworthy because Chicago’s Devin Hester running back the opening kickoff for a touchdown. Of historic note is the match-up for head coaches; Lovie Smith and Tony Dungy became the first African-American head coaches to face off in the Super Bowl, and Dungy became the first African-American to win a Super Bowl.
7. Super Bowl XLV: Green Bay Packers vs Pittsburgh Steelers
For a while, this game had all the appearances of a blowout. Green Bay opened the scoring with a touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson, then on the subsequent drive, Nick Collins returned a Ben Roethlisberger interception for a touchdown. Another Aaron Rodgers touchdown to Greg Jennings made the score 21-3 before Pittsburgh began to mount at comeback. Credit to Pittsburgh for managing to make a game out of this contest, but the Packers prevailed 31-25 for Aaron Rodgers only Super Bowl appearance and victory.
6. Super Bowl XLVII: San Francisco 49ers vs Baltimore Ravens
The renaissance of Joe Flacco carried the Ravens all the way to a Super Bowl victory in the 2012 playoffs. Flacco upset both Peyton Manning and Tom Brady on the road before going to New Orleans where he capped off his brilliant post-season with a Super Bowl MVP performance. Another game noteworthy for several on and off-field oddities: John and Jim Harbaugh became the first pair of brothers to coach against each other in the Super Bowl, the Super Bowl was actually delayed during the 3rd quarter due to a blackout, and Jacoby Jones set the record for longest kickoff return for a touchdown in NFL playoff history (104 yards). Much like the number seven ranked Super Bowl, this game appeared to be a blowout before the 49ers mounted a furious comeback that stalled on the goal-line down five, with 12 seconds left.
5. Super Bowl XLVI: New York Giants vs New England Patriots
Ranking a Giants Super Bowl this low? Seems almost blasphemous for me, right? Allow me to elaborate. This is a game the Giants had almost no business winning. I like to call the 2011 Giants the luckiest team ever. THREE fumbles hit the floor in this game, all either recovered by the Giants or negated due to a New England penalty, and let’s not forget about Wes Welker’s drop late in the fourth quarter. The real action in this game started with a gorgeous sideline throw from Eli Manning to Mario Manningham on what would eventually be the game-winning touchdown for the Giants. Despite the luck, Eli Manning once again proved to be the Patriots Kryptonite.
4. Super Bowl XLIV: New Orleans Saints vs Indianapolis Colts
The 31-17 final score is in indicative of how awesome this game was. Early methodical drives by Peyton Manning looked to have the Colts in position to cruise to a victory. It would take a coach with balls the size of the death star to pull a victory out. Enter Sean Payton. Two for three in the gutsy play-call success rate, including opening the second half with the first ever onside kick in Super Bowl history. A two-point conversion late had the Saints up seven, with Manning driving to tie the ball game BEFORE AN INTERCEPTION BY TRACY PORTER BACK TO THE HOUSE! The caps are to emphasize how crazy the city of New Orleans went when Tracy Porter took a Manning pass all the way to the house, and New Orleans to the winner’s circle.
3. Super Bowl XLIII: Arizona Cardinals vs Pittsburgh Steelers
The way the momentum swung in this game was insane. Being a neutral fan was tough, I can’t imagine being a fan of either of these teams. Examples include the Cardinals driving all the way down to inside the Steeler five-yard line with about 10 seconds left in the first half before James Harrison jumped a slant and took it back 100 yards for what many consider to be the greatest play in Super Bowl history. Fast forward to the Steelers being backed up on their own one-yard line with 2:58 to play in the game, facing a third and 10. Ben rifles a pass over the middle to Santonio Holmes that gets called back for holding…IN THE END-ZONE. Once down 20-7 with eight minutes in the fourth, Arizona now has the ball back with the score 20-16, with two and half minutes left with an opportunity to mount a drive to take the lead. If you just read that whole sentence, it probably took longer than it took for Larry Fitzgerald to race to the end zone for a 65-yard touchdown. It took even less time for the Steelers to race down the field. The play longer than (time-wise) of all these aforementioned plays was Ben’s six yard game winner to Santonio Holmes in the back of the end zone that may or may not (because nobody really knows what is and is not a catch) the current rules for a clean reception in the NFL.
2. Super Bowl XLII: New York Giants vs New England Patriots
What is more shocking: this game not being number one on this list or the six seed Giants upsetting the 18-0 Patriots in the Super Bowl? Tom Brady and the Patriots had a record-breaking season. Brady broke the passing touchdown record, Randy Moss broke the receiving touchdown record, the Patriots became the first team in league history to go 16-0 in the regular season. First quarter scores by both teams were all the action we would see for the first 50 or so minutes. Trailing 7-3 into the fourth quarter, a David Tyree touchdown catch gave the Giants a 10-7 lead. Remember Tyree’s name, he comes up later. The Patriots answered with a touchdown drive of their own, with Brady finding Moss in the end zone to give the 18-0 Patriots a four point lead with 2:42 left in the game. It looked like it would take a miracle for the Giants to claim a lead in this game. So, cue the second David Tyree siting. A ridiculous sack-escape by Eli Manning lead to an even more ridiculous catch by Tyree, one where he pinned the ball to his helmet to help maintain possession. That catch was pretty much prophesied a Giants upset, with the faith being rewarded in the form of a Plaxico Burress touchdown.
1. Super Bowl XLIX: Seattle Seahawks vs New England Patriots
I’ll throw some sugar the Patriots’ way because I pity them for the heartbreak my Giants have caused them. Also, this was easily the greatest Super Bowl I’ve ever seen. High-drama, unprecedented comebacks, not one but TWO amazing plays late, scandal, controversy, and let’s not forget TOM FAWKIN BRADY. Let’s start with the ballsy Pete Carroll risking leaving points on the board by going for a touchdown with time running out in the first half. Let’s mention the Seahawks picking off Brady twice and maintaining a ten-point lead in the fourth quarter, a deficit that had never been overcome in Super Bowl history. Let’s talk about Brady proceeding to put on a passing clinic, completing 37 of 50 passes with four touchdowns. Brady’s night included a fourth quarter where he was 13-15 passing with two touchdowns in two consecutive drives. Let’s talk now about how the Patriots could leave Arizona having avoided the ghosts of Arizona’s Past…HA! Russell Wilson lobs a ball for Jermaine Kearse that is broken up by Malcolm Butler (again, a name to remember!!!), but Kearse manages to corral the ball into his lap to give the Seahawks the ball inside the ten yard line and Marshawn Lynch. So the prevailing thought for the next few plays is just “Marshawn Lynch.” That was the prevailing thought for everyone except for the Seahawks offensive brass, who inexplicably decided to throw a well-designed slant on 2nd down into the end zone that Malcolm Butler jumps and picks off for the New England victory!